NEVER AGAIN

The “whys” and the “hows”
were almost immediate.
Followed shortly thereafter,
were the smattering of “thoughts & prayers”
accompanied by hashtags
and politicians’ faux broken hearts.

This one was “the worst”,
but haven’t they all been?
Haven’t they all been
the worst for someone?
Someone’s mom,
Someone’s dad,
Someone’s spouse,
Someone’s child,
Someone’s sibling,
Someone’s best friend?

The makeshift memorial
stretches across the astroturf
winding like a trail of tears,
a road of sorrows.
Messages, coins, candles, roses;
gestures from those who knew them personally
and those who know them now,
because we let this happen again.

I bend slightly
to read each name
adhered to each white cross.
They are from various locations:
Southern California,
West Virginia,
Canada,
Idaho,
Las Vegas.
I reassure them silently that they won’t be forgotten,
but when I look at the paper,
less than a week later,
it seems some are already trying not to remember.

Is it too soon to talk about this?
Is it ever too soon to talk about
Someone’s mom,
Someone’s dad,
Someone’s spouse,
Someone’s child,
Someone’s sibling,
Someone’s best friend
and why they should still be living and breathing?
Is it too soon to talk about
this broken society
that has created an admiration for senseless violence
and has prioritized gun ownership over a love of human beings?

When should we talk about
Austin (’66),
Columbine (’99),
Virginia Tech (’07),
Aurora (’12),
Newtown (’12),
Charleston (’15),
Orlando (’16),
Las Vegas (’17)?
Should we wait until more than 60 innocents die at once?

We shouldn’t be talking,
We should be shouting!
And before the questions of “why” or “how” are raised,
we should be emphasizing, “Never, never again,”
and taking immediate action.
Vegas Memorial2.JPG

Photos taken: 10/6/2017

MORE THAN THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS

I have lived in the Las Vegas area for the last 18 years. I’ve lived here longer than I have lived anywhere else in my lifetime. This morning, I woke to a flood of text messages and emails from friends asking if me and my loved ones were safe and accounted for. Unfortunately, Las Vegas is not alone in its grief. We were preceded by the University of Texas, Columbine, Virginia Tech, the movie theater in Aurora, CO, Newtown, San Bernardino, Washington, D.C., PULSE Nightclub — the list goes on and on.

Thoughts and prayers are nice, but they are clearly not enough during this time. We need action from our law makers. There is currently a bill that will soon be up for vote to make it so that silencers can be more easily obtained. Why? Why do we continue to protect gun owners over the rest of the citizens of this nation? I cannot imagine how many more lives would have been lost last night if the psychotic gunman would have used a silencer. There is still a loophole in background checks for guns. People can still purchase guns easily at gun shows. If people want to own guns, we should be vetting them much more thoroughly than we do someone who is applying for a driver’s license.  In addition, we need better mental health care in this country. Everyone should be able to easily see a therapist, a psychiatrist, a grief counselor, get treatment for PTSD, and the like. The system is broken. It needs fixing. If now is not the time to make this political, then when is? I don’t think anyone’s second amendment rights should be more important than the rights of everyone in this country to feel safe when they are at school, at a concert, or going to the movie theater.

I fully understand that guns are like drugs. If people want them, they will find a way to get them, but it absolutely couldn’t hurt to put more laws and better laws in place. Let’s follow the example of Australia where there are now strict gun control laws. They haven’t had anything of the caliber like what we are continuing to see in the United States since 1996.

I am irate that this keeps happening. I am sad that it happened in my community. I am beyond enraged that it keeps happening over and over again. We send up thoughts and prayers, and then it happens again and we repeat the cycle. This should NOT be our new normal. We need more than thoughts and prayers. We need actions! We need unity in that action. We need peace of mind. We need more kindness and understanding. We needed it decades ago, and we need it now more than ever. If you are able to help victims of this tragedy, I recommend donating to this gofundme page that was created by the sheriff and Steve Sisolak, who is currently the Clark County Commission Chairman. I have many additional thoughts, but there is a lot that is still processing at the moment. My main thought is more of a hope. A hope that we can see an end to this type of senseless violence and soon; and also that lawmakers will start putting their constituents needs above their own needs and discontinue receiving donations from organizations like the NRA.

THOUGHTS OF AN INSOMNIAC

Did I lock the deadbolt? What’s my favorite kind of cheese? Whatever happened to that cast member from “The Real World Hawaii”? How many books have I read this year? That moonrise in Alaska was one of the most stunning sights I have ever seen. What does it take to become a Canadian citizen? Small talk has completely died now that everyone has smartphones. I hope my daughter gets financial aid, a couple scholarships, and doesn’t let losers take advantage of her once she’s in college. My nephew is the most adorable toddler on the planet. Mmmmm…a bagel with cream cheese sounds delicious right now. No wait! A chocolate Croissant from Starbucks. Why is anyone thinking we can live on Mars? That’s the dumbest idea ever. Scott Pruitt pisses me off. Betsy DeVos too. I need to make a donation to The Committee to Protect Journalists. How many licks DOES it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? Should I get up and shower now? What book do I want to read next? Why do so many artists and actors OD or commit suicide? The next time I organize the closet, I have to get rid of that quilt. It’s bulky and takes up tons of space. “Garden State” is still one of my favorite movies. It would be amazing to hang out with Mike D and Ad-Rock. Does David Sedaris have a reading coming up soon? I am stoked for the Kings of Leon concert. Why is summertime such a waste land for TV viewing? How old would John Lennon be if he were still alive? I wonder if he would have reunited with Paul McCartney to sing duets. What’s on my to-do list for today? I am going to need a nap. Can’t sleep. Clowns will eat me. Can’t sleep.  Clowns will eat me. Mmmmm…donuts.

BEGGING FOR ANSWERS

I came of age in the era
of argyle socks
and plaid shirts
stolen from your father’s closet.

We stopped before school
to fill Super Big Gulp cups
with frothy Orange Bang!
which we kept in our lockers all day.

We didn’t realize
that MTV would soon cease
to be music television
and would peddle us “Jersey Shore”.

There was no comprehension
of intrawebs and internets,
and the smart phones
our children gobble up like Candy Crush.

I think about the pivotal moment
when he filled three pages of my yearbook
with a break-up message
that I didn’t fully comprehend until age 38.

I sometimes remember
the way he smelled like Play-Doh
and combed his hands
through my wet hair.

Then I wander to the artist
with the wire-framed glasses
who tasted like Budweiser
and smelled like paint thinner.

They tell us not to look back,
but they also say if you don’t examine the past
you’re doomed to repeat it.
So which is it, huh?

THE INNOCENCE OF BEING OBLIVIOUS

The summer the Idaho potato fields
lay spread out before us
and the world was ours for the taking,
we met the tall one in the mall parking lot.
There were no smart phones or Google maps.
We didn’t even have a paper map.
Talking Heads was on the radio
and it was the summer before our senior year.
I should have had sights set on the dark-headed boy,
with the slight lisp and sincere eyes.
Instead, my focus was
the broken-hearted, harder to crack veneer.
He’d been my mission since day one.
We spent inordinate amounts of time
in his basement that trip:
listening to music,
making each other laugh,
cuddling on his water bed.
We didn’t know where his parents were,
and we didn’t ask.
Even though it was innocuous,
it felt like we were pushing boundaries.
Doing something daring.

We went ice blocking down Simplot hill,
a vast swath of property in the midst of Boise
with a mansion perched atop.
A city conquered.
Security must have been lax,
because the more we slid down the hill
with our hair flying behind us,
and the more trees we climbed,
the freer we felt.
No sign of a reprimand.

The river flowed around us seamlessly.
Our inner-tubes bobbed along,
like Halloween party apples in a bucket.
But there was an unspoken surface tension,
that I mistook as the thrill of being on the river.
Your first kiss
should have been with someone better,
someone who didn’t claim to be “rebounding.”
Knowing the situation now,
the pictures speak volumes.
I often think about the innocence
of being oblivious
and frequently wish that was
a more recurrent state of mine.

NOW IS THE TIME

My husband says that I’m getting old. Actually, it may have been me who said, “Do you think I am getting old?” And his reply was something like, “Well, you do read the newspaper every day, watch the evening news (often on more than one channel), and wake up early on Sunday mornings to eat a bagel while you watch ‘Meet the Press’. So…yes?”

I always claimed to be the type of person who wasn’t “into politics”. Even as recently as early 2016, I frequently said I didn’t care about caucusing. I would rarely bring up my own political views in public forums, and especially refrained from doing so on social media. (I no longer participate in social medias, so that wouldn’t be a thing for me now anyway.) While I wasn’t into politics, I always voted. The first election in which I was old enough to vote took place in 1996. I was sick as a dog and still made it to the local fire station to cast my ballot. Our rights as citizens of this nation have always felt important to me. I have never been affiliated with any political party. I have always considered myself an independent. I thoroughly research all the candidates and then have previously proclaimed, “I vote for the one who seems the least loserish.” Everything changed for me on November 9th of last year, when I realized with a slap in the face, the importance politics plays in every single aspect of our lives.

After the election, I found out that a few people I knew had voted for Trump. I wanted to know why.  The answers were varied: “Because Hillary thinks abortion is okay.” “Because Hillary’s personality is annoying.” “Because, Hillary’s private servers.” To me, none of those reasons are valid. Donald Trump’s shortcomings bear much more weight and are hugely massive compared with any of those reasons. He has let into his orbit many horrible humans, has thrown rallies filled with hateful rhetoric, and has admitted to groping women, because he has a right as a wealthy man to do so. He’s the worst kind of xenophobic, racist, narcissist — and now he has a world-wide platform and attention for all of his bad behavior. Not only does he have a platform, but he scoots over occasionally to share it with others who should have no place being able to spread their fear and vile words.

After the occurrences last weekend in Charlottesville, I noticed that some people, including Trump, don’t seem to understand what rights The First Amendment protects. The Bill of Rights wasn’t designed to protect the hate speech and incitement of riots by white supremacist groups. They are never out to peaceably assemble. If you have seen or heard any of them speak, you can tell they are a soulless mob and they are armed to the teeth. I’ve heard many news pundits and others claim shock and surprise that Trump seems to be endorsing these groups. I am not surprised at all. Haven’t people been listening to his words for the last two years/decade? People who were hoping he would become more “presidential” once he was actually elected were fools. As my uncle used to say, “People don’t change too goddamn much too goddamn much of the time.” Trump is a zebra who has been showing his stripes since day one.

Now is not the time for silence. Now is not the time to say, “I’m not into politics.” Now is the time for shouting about what we hold dear. We need to band together as citizens of this world to protect the environment, safeguard our children and schools, push for the rights of immigrants and women and healthcare for all. Now is a time for action. We cannot tolerate the aforementioned perversions of democracy. This famous quote I have heard several times recently sends chills down my spine. It should prompt all of us to act. It is from a Nazi survivor named Martin Niemöller:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

THIRTIES IN THE REAR-VIEW

I.
In the mid-1980s,
my mom professed her
crush on George Michael.
Being quite young,
I was certain
my middle-aged, Mormon mother
was going to leave
the suburbs of Utah,
her three children and my dad,
move to England,
and set up house
with George Michael.
(In hindsight,
I suppose she would have
been in a relationship with Andrew Ridgeley
of Wham as well)?

II.
Knowing there are others
who feel this way,
think this way,
and want the crush of madness
to stop, is what wakes me up most mornings.
I don’t have news alerts turned on —
I don’t like being reminded
about what’s coming next.
Yet I read voraciously,
like it’s my job.
The words of reporters and authors
are my lifeline.
They say “the struggle is real”,
and many days, I know it has just begun.

III.
I am glad I didn’t turn 40 in 2016.
Last year was filled with death,
depression,
earth-shattering,
life-altering events.
Taking on another decade
would have overwhelmed instantly.
My heart felt stretched in January,
again in April,
and by November’s end,
my lungs headed for collapse.
Put a star on the wall for me.
I was one of the casualties
of the soon-to-be prophesied “American carnage”.
By February,
I rose up, bandaged,
a resurrected, bettered zombie
of my former self —
and this one isn’t putting up with any shit.
Forty is the new 1984.